“Spear-thrower” Petroglyphs (Valley of Fire State Park)

 

During my recent trip to Valley of Fire State Park, I was privileged to receive a guided tour by a friend that is very familiar with the area. My friend was also able to provide some tips on places to look for petroglyphs that are not often seen by the public. It’s not that anyone can’t visit these sites, it is rather that their locations are kept safe guarded by those that know of them, despite many being in plain site. Because these sites have been entrusted to me by an individual that wishes for them to stay relatively unknown, I have used an alias name for the site, and will refrain from giving any details as to their whereabouts.

The thousands of petroglyphs located in Valley of Fire have been dated by archeologists, some of which have been identified to be over 3,000 years old.

 

"Spear-thrower" Petroglyphs - Valley of Fire State Park - These meandering lines, and tick marks are characteristics of early petroglyph designs.

“Spear-thrower” Petroglyphs – Valley of Fire State Park – These meandering lines, and tick marks are characteristics of early petroglyph designs.

 

The Gypsum People were the first known inhabitants of Valley of Fire, they visited here 4000-1800 years ago (2000 B.C.-200 A. D.). The Gypsum People were nomadic hunter-gather people.¬† It is believed that these people didn’t live in the Valley of Fire, but rather traveled here for ceremonial and religious purposes.

Later groups of native people who would spend time in and around the Valley of Fire include the Basket Makers, the Anasazi Pueblo People that farmed in nearby Moapa Valley, and later in historic times, the Southern Paiute.

 

"Spear-thrower" Petroglyphs - Valley of Fire State Park - Many of the petroglyph panels are located high on rock faces.

“Spear-thrower” Petroglyphs – Valley of Fire State Park – Many of the petroglyph panels are located high on rock faces.

 

None of these groups of people are believed to have lived full-time in the Valley of Fire, as there are no water sources in the area, with the exception of water that may have collected in natural stone tanks (like Mouse’s Tank).

It is very likely that the Valley of Fire petroglyphs had been created over a period of roughly 3,000 years, by members of each of these cultural groups.

 

"Spear-thrower" Petroglyphs - Valley of Fire State Park - Lots of bighorn sheep designs

“Spear-thrower” Petroglyphs – Valley of Fire State Park – Lots of bighorn sheep designs

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.